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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"


Projected Expedition, to Mount Kaiias in Tibet—Magnifaence of the Snowy
Mountain Scenery—I Discover "The Sanctuary".

ONE day a scientist will give us the mathematics of slumber, working
out to precise fractions the ratio of the degree of fatigue to the period
of unconsciousness. But whatever ratio he produces for the delecta-
tion of the curious, I am certain that he will need to revise his figures
in the case of the dwellers on the Himalayan highlands.

For both of us awake after a briefer sleep than we normally
enjoy, yet more refreshed and more vital than heretofore. It may be
that the clean crisp air, when inhaled, assists the body to restore its
worn-out functions more rapidly than under other conditions.
At any rate, we set about the day's activities at an early hour and
light a lamp whilst awaiting the coming of the dawn, when the
peaks will show indistinctly against a dark blue sky and rays of the
rising sun will then tinge the snowline.

I wander through the bungalow. It is a simple, elementarily
furnished place, as befits a lonely abode on the mountains. Three
sets of double doors open into my room, one leading from the
dining-room, another to the bathroom (no tiled wails and porcelain
bath affair, this, but just a bare room holding a zinc tub for cold
water), and the third opens directly on the forest. Light enters
through glazed panels in the last door.

So this is to be my new home. Suddenly I remember a warning
hint that it is haunted, but I take the thought lightly. Even if it
once were justified, it cannot be now. I am ready to believe that the
departed did show himself in a faintly phosphorescent form once
or twice in an effort to retain his foothold on this familiar earth,
but I am not ready to believe that he is still here. No ghost can
flourish long in this healthy mountain air nor exist without becoming
miserably lonely and utterly bored by the lack of appreciation. What
encouragement can a poor ghost expect in this lonely dwelling,
shut up unused as it is for a few years at a time? A self-respecting
ghost needs an audience. And what audience can he expect here—
unless it be the pine trees, the shaggy bears or the penetrating
winds? No—he needs company, society, if he is to keep his nerves
in order. I am sure that I shall find the warning groundless.

And of what shall my activities consist? The principal one is
just sitting still! I am quite serious. It is indeed, I must admit, a